Government refers solar energy projects for fast-track consenting

Nearly half a million solar panels across two Waikato solar farm projects that could reduce over 200 million kilograms of carbon pollution each year have been referred for fast-track consenting, creating up to 280 jobs, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has announced.

Referring the Rangiriri Solar Farm Project and Waerenga Solar Farm Project will mean that five significant renewable energy projects have been referred through the COVID-19 Recovery Fast-track Consenting Act since late 2021, speeding up the transition to a clean energy future.

“If approved these projects could displace about 220 million kilograms or more of New Zealand’s CO2 emissions from fossil fuel electricity generation each year,” Chris Hipkins said.

“Solar energy helps keep household power bills lower, and delivers economic and environmental benefits across the region and nationally.

“Delivery of fast-track consenting has been a key part of the Government’s strategy to accelerate economic recovery and boost jobs, while speeding up our emissions reduction,” Chris Hipkins said.

Environment Minister David Parker said the ongoing operation of the projects, and associated power infrastructure, would improve long-term economic and employment outcomes in the Waikato.

“These projects are examples of the type of renewable energy development needed to meet our environmental goals, and increasing generation and supply improves our national energy resilience,” David Parker said.  

“Fast-track consenting will become a permanent part of the resource management system through the proposed Natural and Built Environments Bill. It has already reduced consenting time by an average of 15 months per project saving infrastructure builders time and money.

“The permanent fast-track consenting process is a crucial part of our plan to reduce emissions and improve our economic security by increasing domestically generated renewable energy.”\

If all five renewable energy projects are approved, the construction of the five renewable energy projects will create up to 1260 full-time jobs and will contribute more than 635 Megawatts to the national grid during peak generation.